Did you know that most people that purchase auto insurance have no idea what they have actually purchased? For example, most people who purchase uninsured motorist believe they are obtaining coverage to fix (or replace) their vehicle. These people will be very upset to find out it doesn’t.
Not everyone uses their vehicle the same way and insurance companies are aware of this. That is why most companies offer different types of insurance policies to best fit your needs for your vehicle. Someone who uses their vehicle exclusively for personal errands or commuting back and forth (to and from work, school, etc.) may find that a personal auto insurance policy is ideal for their needs. Although these plans may be perfect for most drivers, they may not be the right option for everyone. If you are using your vehicle for work or your vehicle is titled in the name of a business, you most likely will need to obtain a commercial auto policy.
If you are confused on what kind of insurance you need when shopping for a policy, make sure to express your concerns about your vehicle usage. Also don't be afraid to ask your agent any questions you have. Just like your grade school teacher used to say, “there is no such thing as a dumb questions”. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask that lead to your claim being denied.
So in short, insurance can be tricky! Not knowing what you are buying before you buy it is never a good idea, and insurance is no different. Would you buy a vehicle blindly before you ever get a chance to see it or test drive it? Chances are probably not. Just remember that some of the decisions you make when buying auto insurance can really hurt you later. So remember to ask before you buy.
Questions to ask include:
What coverage is included in my quote/policy?
What additional coverage may I need?
How would this coverage help me in the event of an accident? (get a real life picture painted for you by your agent)
Who is covered to drive my vehicles?
Are there any additional discounts available to me with this quote? (Paperless, auto-pay, advanced quote/purchase, paid-in-full, etc.)
How much do I save by paying the policy in full?
If you need more information on what you need to register your vehicle in Florida, obtain a Florida driver’s license, or are just seeking general info on Florida DMV, please click the link below.
Imagine that you are in an accident, and you are found be at-fault. If you were deemed the cause of the accident and the other party is injured, you may well be in a hot water financially if you made some bad decisions when picking out your auto policy. No matter how safe a driver you think you are, there is a reason they call these things “accidents”.
Now imagine everything you have worked your whole life to build. A house you call home, maybe even a business you have put thousands of hours into to build from the ground up. If you are found at-fault in the accident you may be liable to pay the entire cost of the person(s) you hurts medical bills associated with this accident, as well as the legal cost to hire an attorney to defend you. These assets of yours (home, business, etc.) that you just thought about, you may also be liable to giving those up too in order to pay these unforeseen bills. However, if you had purchased Bodily Injury coverage than things may not be as bad as they just sounded.
Bodily Injury is designed to cover your liability in the event you hurt another party in an accident. Bodily Injury can be purchased at many different limits (10/20, 25/50, 100/300, etc.) so it can be tailored to the needs of different drivers. These limits are typically represented by two numbers, the first being the per person limit of liability (in thousands) and the second be the per accident limit of liability (also in thousands). So if you had purchased Bodily Injury coverage with 100/300 limits you would effectively have liability protecting of $100,000 per person (per injured person you hurt) and $300,000 per accident (for entire party you injured).
So what are you liable for if you hurt someone else in an accident where you were at-fault? You may have already known that you can be held liable for the injured parties’ medical expenses, but did about the cost of legal fees? Bodily Injury may be able to help you with both of these problems. Many people are aware that bodily injury can cover medical expenses for the other party, but it can also cover your legal expenses which arise from the covered accident.
Bodily Injury is an essential coverage for protecting you and your assets, and may be something you deeply regret not having someday. A wise agent once told me something about insurance that is still stuck in my head today…
“Insurance doesn’t seem as expensive when you need it”
Keep this in mind when selecting the coverage you need, and please think twice about cutting down the cost of your policy at the expense of exposing yourself to serious financial burdens when you needed it.
Also remember to ask your agent plenty of questions to best determine your need for coverage, and how much is needed.
Questions to ask include:
What limits of Bodily Injury Coverage should I carry on my policy?
What does my Bodily Injury cover?
If I lease a vehicle, what limits of Bodily Injury do I need to carry?
Uninsured Motorist (and its Importance)
Did you know that 1 out of 8 drivers nationwide are uninsured or underinsured? What is even more alarming is this rate is almost double in Florida! Approximately 24% of registered drivers in Florida are either carrying inadequate coverage or no coverage at all.
Imagine that you are driving to the airport in your car, you and your partner are about to depart on a wonderful trip to the Caribbean. You have all your bags packed in the trunk and have triple checked your travel list to ensure you have everything you need for your vacation. While you are driving a careless driver goes to check his phone for a text that couldn’t wait, and the next thing you know they rear-end your vehicle’s back bumper into your back seat. Although you and your spouse may not have suffered fatal injuries, you both require immediate medical attention and are transported to the nearest hospital. Now you may have triple checked your travel list, but did you forget to double check your auto insurance policy? If you did you may leave the hospital with something much worse than a broken heart from missing your trip. Medical bills!
You may be thinking, “well the accident wasn’t my fault” and you may be right. However, if the driver who was at-fault was uninsured or underinsured you and your significant other may find yourselves in significant financial trouble. There is a way to protect yourself from other drivers like this, it's called Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) is a coverage option you can purchase on most auto policies. Though you are required to have Bodily Injury (BI) included on your policy before you can purchase Uninsured Motorist. When purchasing Uninsured Motorist (UM) remember that you cannot exceed your limits of this coverage higher than your current Bodily Injury limits.
Ex.) You have Bodily Injury (BI) Limits of 10/20. You can only insure yourself with 10/20 limits of Uninsured Motorist (UM).
Now say you have $100,000/$300,000 BI limits. You now have several options for UM coverage ranging from $10,000/$20,000, $25,000/$50,000, $100,000/$300,000, etc. However, you still would not be allow to exceed your 100/300 BI limits.
There is one way to insure yourself with higher limits of UM if you cannot increase your Bodily Injury (BI) any higher or don't want to carry higher limits of BI. This is called stacking. When you stack your UM coverage your UM limits is now multiplied by the number of vehicles insured on your policy. Also in some cases this can be applied across multiple vehicles on multiple policies, but this is a little more complicated and you would be best to ask your agent how this would work for you in your situation.
Ex.) You have UM limits of $25,000/$50,000 on a 3 vehicle auto policy. Coverage is NOT stacked. In the event you involved in a not-at-fault accident occurs that triggers you’re UM coverage you would still only have limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per vehicle to cover your parties’ injuries.
Now say you had stacked you’re UM coverage, the same accident listed above would now grant you limits of $75,000 per person and $150,000 per accident with the same $25,000/$50,000 UM limits. This is because your stacked coverage (25/50) is now multiplied by 3 (3 insured vehicles).
Questions to ask include:
Does my policy include Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
What limits of Uninsured Motorist am I eligible for on my policy?
Who is covered under my Uninsured Motorist coverage?
How does my Uninsured Motorist work in the event of an accident?
Is my Uninsured Motorist coverage stacked?
The Deceptive “Full Coverage” Insurance Myth
Did you know most people believe “Full Coverage” covers them for everything? In fact “Full Coverage” insurance is not technically a coverage at all. It is one of the most misconceiving terms within the auto insurance industry. While “Full Coverage” can usually be assumed that there is Comprehensive, Collision, and some level of Liability included, it is never safe to assume with insurance. Not knowing what your “Full Coverage” includes may leave you hurting after an accident, and not just from the impact of the crash.
Now this is not to say you don't want “Full Coverage” insurance. If you are financing the vehicle most dealerships will refer to the coverage you need as “Full Coverage”. What they really want you to purchase is called Comprehensive and Collision coverage. These two separate coverages pair together to cover you vehicle while it is being operated or while it is parked. Even with both Comprehensive and Collision coverage you still need to make sure what you are covered for and who is covered (or more importantly NOT covered) to drive your vehicle.
Don’t be afraid to ask your agent questions before you pay for a policy and don't let your agent tell you that you are “Fully Covered” without asking him what coverage is included.
Questions to ask include:
Is my vehicle covered for physical damage while driving?
Is my vehicle physically covered if it is parked and not being operated?
Is roadside assistance or rental reimbursement included in my “Full Coverage”?
Who is covered to drive my vehicle, and would my Comprehensive and Collision cover them if they wrecked my car?
What are my deductibles on both my Comprehensive and Collision Coverage? (YES, both have separate deductibles!)
Comprehensive Vs Collison Coverage
Did you know that the physical damage on your vehicle is actually covered under TWO separate coverages? Depending on how your vehicle is damaged your policy may cover you claim under Comprehensive or Collision. Collision coverage covers your vehicle in the event your vehicle is in an accident while it is being driven (under its own power). This coverage would protect you if you were driving and accidently struck another moving car, a parked car, or even a tree.
But did you know what would happen if a tree hits your car? If your vehicle is NOT being operated, such as being parked in your driveway during a storm, this is where Comprehensive coverage would come in. Comprehensive coverage would cover your vehicle in the above accident where a tree fell on your car and puts a dent or two (or more) in your beloved vehicle.
Questions to ask include:
Does my policy include Comprehensive and Collision?
What are my deductibles for both my Comprehensive and Collision coverage?
Will Comprehensive and Collison coverage cover the full cost of my vehicle? (referred to as replacement cost)
Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance
Did you know that using your Rental Reimbursement and/or Roadside Assistance can result in a claim? Just like an accident would be marked on your record, using one of these coverage services on your policy will result in a claim on your record. Now not all claims are created equal, and they don't all effect your rate the same way. You may not see a drastic increase in your premium, such as you would after an accident, however companies do keep track of these claims. Companies can non-renew your policy, or in some cases deny you a new policy, just from having too many of these claims. Now this is not to say you should not purchase this valuable coverage, you very well should! This coverage is offered on auto insurance policies from most companies, and it is usually one of your cheaper coverages to add on. It is a great value buy if you are seeking to enhance your auto insurance coverage and limit your exposure to unforeseen bills after an accident. If you already have this coverage on your policy or are looking to purchase it, keep in mind that (like many coverages) not all companies version of this coverage is the exact same.
Did you know that most companies have different rules and guidelines regarding their version of Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance? Just about every company covers you differently according to their company’s policy form. Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance are no different. Make sure your agent reviews how your company’s version of these coverage works for you, as you may end up stuck in a ditch when you find out your company won’t send you a tow truck.
Also keep in mind if you don't have Rental Reimbursement you may want to reconsider it. Having to pay the full price of a rental vehicle while yours is still in the shop is no fun. Rental Reimbursement helps pay for the cost on a per day basis, up to the per day limit of coverage you choose. The best part is its usually rather inexpensive to purchase this coverage, something that is not true when renting a vehicle. If you don't believe me go check out prices for rentals online.
Questions to ask include:
What does my roadside assistance include? (Key Lockout, Gas, etc.)
How does my roadside assistance cover me if I have to tow my vehicle? (Mileage limits, max benefit limit, etc.)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Did you know that your Personal Injury Protection coverage may extend to you if you are hit by a car as a pedestrian? Personal Injury Protection in Florida is designed to provide you immediate medical coverage if you are involved in an auto accident, even as a pedestrian. Although this may be true in Florida (as of now), this can vary from one state to another and is subject to change down the road if a state decides to amend their specific state statues.
Anyone that has an insured vehicle registered in Florida is required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP), so chances are you have this coverage if you own and operate a registered vehicle in Florida. This valuable coverage provides immediate medical coverage to the driver of a vehicle, regardless of who was at-fault in the accident. There are several options you can usually select when choosing your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) but this can vary between companies, so make sure to ask your agent what options are available to you.
According to Florida’s No-Fault law (FL § 627.7407), you may be able to file a claim under your policy’s personal injury protection if you are ever struck by another vehicle as a pedestrian. Although this is nice to know in case you go like to jog around your neighborhood, most people who use this coverage are riding in a vehicle. It is designed to cover you (and if selected, direct relatives and dependents) for your initial medical bills arising from an automobile accident, of course up to the limits of your policy. Also in many cases your PIP will follow you while riding as a passenger in another vehicle. To read more about Florida’s Personal Injury Protection law and how it may apply to you, click here.
Questions to ask include:
How would my Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits work if I were involved in an accident?
What portion of my selected Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will go towards medical bills after if I am hurt in an accident?
Who is covered under my Personal Injury Protection (PIP)? (Spouse, children, etc.)
What is the difference between Extended Personal Injury Protection and Enhanced Personal Injury Protection?
Did you know that your property damage coverage doesn’t cover your property? Your property damage coverage is there to protect you from being sued if you ever damage someone else property in an accident you are deemed at-fault. If you crash into someone else car, or even say their house, your property damage is designed to pay that person for the damage you have caused in your insured vehicle.
Property Damage is one of the required coverages you need for your Florida no-fault requirement. In this case all you typically would need to register your vehicle is a minimum of $10,000 property damage. But what if you hit a Mercedes Benz? This is one of the reasons that most companies offer higher limits of property damage, some of the other increments you can purchase this coverage include $20,000, $50,000, $100,000, as well as higher limits with some companies. When you are shopping your coverage make sure to check out which options you have when selecting your property damage, in many cases it is rather inexpensive to increase this coverage. This is nice to know because paying a tiny bit more per month can make a HUGE difference if you are ever unfortunate enough to be the cause of an accident with a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe (Over $100,000 Retail!). If your agent hasn’t recommend higher limits of property damage you should be looking for a new agent who will.
Questions to ask include:
What limit of Property Damage (PD) does my policy cover me for?
What limits of Property Damage (PD) are available to me at without changing any other coverage? (your PD may be capped based on your limits of Bodily Injury)